Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians (Alcatraz, #1)
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Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians (Alcatraz #1)

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3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  7,039 ratings  ·  1,345 reviews

A hero with an incredible talent...for breaking things. A life-or-death mission...to rescue a bag of sand. A fearsome threat from a powerful secret network...the evil Librarians.

Alcatraz Smedry doesn't seem destined for anything but disaster. On his 13th birthday he receives a bag of sand, which is quickly stolen by the cult of evil Librarians plotting to take over the wo

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Hardcover, 308 pages
Published October 1st 2007 by Scholastic Press
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Becky
I'm shelving this as "fantasy" because, well... I don't want to call the attention of the Librarians down upon my head. They're mean and will probably try to kill me for letting the cat out of the bag. This book was banned, and for good reason. Hopefully, they'll just look at the shelf tags, and not the actual review. I don't want to be silenced.

Alcatraz Smedry (writing as some "Brandon Sanderson" guy as a cover) tells his story, and quite a story it is. Librarians have been keeping us all in t...more
Kathryn
Nov 02, 2008 Kathryn rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: anyone looking for a zany and slightly philosophical look at a world ruled by evil Librarians!
We met Brandon Sanderson at a book reading/signing yesterday. Such fun! He seemed very nice and thoroughly excited about his creations. Younger than I'd expected and also very "normal" but fun. Most people were there for his other (adult fantasy) books and the majority of the Q&A revolved around his taking over the "Wheel of Time" series now that its original author has passed away. I think, for this reason, he was extremely excited when we showed up with a copy of "Alcatraz" for him to sign...more
bookczuk
I'm so bummmed....I've been wanting to read this book since I first heard about it about a year ago. I really wanted to like it because:

1. it's got a great title
2. I've met the author and think he's delightful and a nice guy to boot
3. children's literature is due another winner
4. did I mention I really like the title?
5. the bits I'd read seemed good
6. the concept held promise
7. (I don't really have a seventh reason, but the number 6 seemed icky to end on. Seven has such strength and balance that...more
Sandi
I'm reading this out loud to my son. I'm not sure why I'm doing it. Oh yeah, I decided I would start reading first chapters to him to get him interested in books. He wanted to make my reading out loud a nightly tradition. Oh, and this is the first book he wanted me to read. (A friend loaned it to him.) I think the only reason it appealed to him was that the word "Alcatraz" was in the title and he is fascinated by anything that has to do with Alcatraz Island. This book is not about Alcatraz Islan...more
Kevin Xu
I found the narration a little slow because the main character, who was narrating the book always had to go back and correct himself. But the biggest problem that I have is that there is only two locations in the book, the main character's house and the library, which the fact of getting from point A to point B felt like seconds. Overall this book is like a Disney Channel original movie.

The only reason that I read this book and rated it four stars was because it was written by Brandon Sanderson,...more
Maria
I was hooked from the first sentence. Not many books start with "So, there I was, tied to an altar made from outdated encyclopedias, about to get sacrificed to the dark powers by a cult of evil Librarians." I've had several career goals in my life; two of the most enduring have been to be a librarian and to be a Disney villain. This true story (published as young adult fiction to avoid the censors) helped me realize that my dream of combining the two is closer than I thought.

This delightful book...more
Michael Ramm
This is the first book in a young adult series by the great Brandon Sanderson. I read my first Sanderson book last year [[book:Mistborn: The Final Empire|68428] if you must know!] and I absolutely fell in love with it. Then I found out that Sanderson wrote a YA series, and I got this at our library for me and my 8YO son to read.

Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians has many similarities to The Matrix. It is about a person who is just living his life not knowing that the life he is living has a sec...more
Kristine
The Gwinnette County Public library's copy of "Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians" mysteriously showed up in my mailbox a few days ago. I hadn't ordered it, nor had my husband or anyone else I asked. I started listening as soon as I could (around eruptions of child care) and, by the end of the first disk I was beginning to wonder if I was in store for a visit from Grandpa Smedry.

Turns out a dear friend sent me a copy and didn't let me know it was coming. Still, of any book that could come unex...more
Susan
Nov 16, 2007 Susan rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: librarians! fans of funny fantasy
Shelves: booktalkers
Librarians rule the world 'cause they control the knowledge! What a concept. So far, this one has me laughing out loud!

Alcatraz suffers from terminal klutziness--little does he know that his clumsiness is really a "talent" characteristic of his family. On his 13th birthday he receives a mysterious package from his parents (he always assumed his parents were dead, since he has spent his life in foster homes--until he breaks something, anyway). The package contains a bag of sand (which gets stole...more
Ann
Dec 18, 2008 Ann rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ann by: Katie and Tyler
What an incredibly delightful book!
A fast-paced, easy-to-read, first person account of Alcatraz Smedry, a foster kid who has a knack for breaking things. But we soon learn that this "knack" is really a Talent - a Smedry Talent - and powerful one at that!
Alcatraz's world is turned upside down (or maybe right-side up) when he learns that the world we live in (the world of the Hushlanders) is actually run by evil librarians from the Free Kingdoms (where they know the truth...). Alcatraz must help...more
Shannon
Oct 24, 2009 Shannon rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Shannon by: Bekah Truss
Shelves: youngadult
I'm pretty stingy with my star ratings. So does Alcatraz really deserve five stars? It does. It truly does. My husband got this book from the library because we had each read another Brandon Sanderson book (Elantris) and enjoyed it. When he brought it home from the library, I recognized the cover. My 8 year old had read it a few months ago. I wish she had told me then to read it! But I wonder if she really knew what a good book this was...

I loved this book for several reasons:

1) A disarmingly ho...more
Megan
One of the chapters in this book (I believe it was chapter ten) began with the question, "Are you annoyed yet?" I had to sigh. Sometimes authors should not ask questions like this of their readers.

Yes, I was annoyed with the book. I found the first person narrative annoying, especially when Alcatraz would talk to the reader. I thought it interrupted the flow of the story and detracted rather than added anything to it. It was annoying that he continually told the reader what a bad person he was....more
Trina
Dec 24, 2007 Trina rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: everyone interested in knowing about the evil plot by librarians to rule the world
I now understand: Alkatraz Smedry is trying to save us all from a plot by the Evil Librarians to rule the world and keep all the magic in it for themselves.

Alkatraz is a great hero with a wonderful talent for breaking things, but he has been brought up by foster families in Inner Libraria who are unable to appreciate him.

When he receives his inheritance (a bag of sand), his life begins to get more exciting. An evil case worker steals the sand, Grandpa Smedry arrives (late, as usual) and off th...more
Sara Shreve
I really wanted to like this book, and at times there were glimmers of hope for it, but in the end it just didn't work. I didn't mind the narrator's crushing negativity and over-the-top sarcasm. I can see how those might appeal to Sanderson's target audience of middle school boys. What I never managed to understand was why he didn't try any harder to write and interesting and compelling book instead of a book whose only impetus seems to be selling sequels and getting a movie deal. However, the b...more
Miriam
"I'd like to take this opportunity to commend you for reading this book. I realize the difficulties you must have gone through to obtain it -- after all, no Librarian is likely to recommend it, considering the secrets it exposes about their kind.
Actually, my experience has been that people generally don't recommend this kind of book at all. It is far too interesting. Perhaps you have had other kinds of books recommended to you. Perhaps, even, you have been given books by friends, parents, or tea...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
First of all, Brandon Sanderson is obviously trying to imitate the style of Lemony Snicket, and he does it well. The story line was a tad confusing in the beginning, but then it was confusing to the main character, Alcatraz, through whose eyes we were viewing the story. Eventually it all came together, as Alcatraz began to accept and learn. The idea of librarians as controllers of knowledge is intriguing, although no true librarian would be so censorous as to manipulate civilization's view of it...more
Amy
My family listened to this as an audiobook on our last roadtrip. Half the people in the car loved the book and half kept checking how long was left and rolling their eyes at each other.

The book is written in a distinctive style - part is normal first person narrative and part is the author talking directly to the reader. At first that was fun and cute but it wore thin quickly. The characters were not well developed and could be summed up with short one-dimensional phrases ... "eccentric goofy g...more
Elevetha
Hilarious! Don't be discouraged by the horrendous cover art, it's okay. You should really pick this up.
Nathaniel
Wouldn't it be fun if I gave my review entirely by way of comparison to Harry Potter? I thought so too! Here we go.

Category 1 - comedy
This book is much funnier than Harry Potter. The constant editorial interruptions are sometimes exasperating but always funny, and I laughed out-loud several times. Very funny.

Category 2 - characterization
All but the main character in this book are mostly quirky caricatures rather than fully-realized people. Even the main character only sort-of comes into focus...more
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
As a librarian, there was absolutely no way I could pass up this book. Evil librarians? I was so there. And boy did this book deliver the absurdities for which I was hoping. The story is told in a breaking the fourth wall kind of way, wherein the author (Sanderson claims to be Alcatraz who is pretending to be Sanderson so the librarians will not ban the book...or something like that) constantly puts the narrative on hold to talk to the reader. This tactic can seriously backfire and is not one I...more
Dewi Wahyuni
The cheekiest of Brandon's books, surely. I'm commenting on the whole series instead of just this one book though.

The first book is a must read before you venture in to the sequel books, in my opinion.

The series follows through the adventures of Alcatraz, a boy that has this really bad habit of breaking things, or so we Hushlanders think.
The book is written from Alcatraz's point of view, as it is made to be his autobiography. There is a HUGE amount of monologue by Alcatraz, and one sided conve...more
Sarah BT
I don't normally do full reviews for Tween Tuesday, but I loved this book and I have to tell everyone about it! I'm so glad I picked this one up for my children's lit class-it's been one of my favorite reads all semester.

Brandon Sanderson fills his book with lots of action, lots of humor and lots of snark, which makes this a perfect read for all ages. It's action-packed with the story really taking off in the first couple of chapters. None of that spending pages and pages setting up the story-...more
Jenny
A fun fantasy story (er, I mean, a completely true story about the Hushlanders (us) and the Free Kingdomers). Alcatraz has been an orphan, moved from house to house because he constantly breaks things, but on his 13th birthday he suddenly finds out that he has family...including his grandpa who is an Oculator. Alcatraz is an Oculator as well, and his clumsy (purposeful?!) breaking of things is his special Smedry talent. Turns out it is useful.

Alcatraz is not a typical narrator... he has many asi...more
Rose
Hello, if you're reading this review, that must mean that you've come across the book "Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians" by the illustrious Brandon Sanderson. You are probably wondering whether you should take the time to read it. Well, considering the book is written in the exact same style as I'm writing this review (sort of), you can have an idea of how the protagonist comes across in spurts. Written in first person, a self-proclaimed autobiography (*cough* - I'm probably not supposed to s...more
Amy
This is not a great book. Ben and I were just talking about YA or junior books have really slipped in quality, and while I had low expectations to begin with, this story really disappointed me. There is a fascinating skeleton of a fantasy here, two worlds, one of which is ruled by the Librarians, who control everything by controlling information, and another world that is free. I love the fact that the most powerful folks have "talents" like falling down, breaking things, speaking gibberish, and...more
Jared W
In "Alcatraz," Sanderson write some refreshingly witty childrens' fantasy--melding elements of fantasy, satire, literary criticism, and healthy doses of humor into his story in create something pure and simple enough for children while still written in such a way as to entertain their parents. While Lloyd Alexander still sets the bar for intelligent childrens' books (and, lets face it, I don't see anyone taking his place soon), this was quite enjoyable.

The story centers around a perhaps-orphan...more
Reepacheep
This is the sixth Brandon Sanderson book I have read in the last three months, although I understand there is some dispute about whether or not this book was written by the actual Brandon Sanderson or by some kid named Alcatraz Smedry. This book is marked by interesting characters, ingenious devices and abilities, and talking dinosaurs. Speaking of which . . .

Dear Brandon Sanderson, Sir:

I am embarking on a new career as a proofreader and was horrified to encounter your rendition of the word pter
...more
Jenny
Despite Sanderson's attempt at humor and literary allusions, I just don't think he quite pulled it off with this book. I realize that the off the wall, wacky, and even silly feel of this book is part of its appeal for kids. Unfortunately, Sanderson's literary creativity often came off as annoying instead of funny.

Sanderson does have some good ideas for fantasy and my kids did somewhat enjoy listening to this book. But they did not like Alcatraz's negative tone at all. I see a lot of potential in...more
J.A.
I gave Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson to my son for Christmas and recently had the chance to read it myself. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading Brandon’s adult fiction and was curious to see how he would adapt his style for children’s literature. The pacing and descriptions are appropriate for his 13-year-old narrator, but his hallmark originality is still intact! Alcatraz (the narrator) goes to great lengths to stress that he is not a nice person and proves it with some h...more
Giant Bolster
This is a children’s novel, written by one of my favourite fantasy writers. If there were more children’s books like this, I think more kids would be interested in reading.

Deliriously wacky, yet entirely internally consistent (as Sanderson’s magic systems always are), the novel is both entertaining and educational at the same time. Entertaining because of the humour on every page, educational because the book – although targeted at children – is surprisingly self-reflexive about the writing proc...more
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Brandon Sanderson was born in 1975 in Lincoln, Nebraska. As a child Brandon enjoyed reading, but he lost interest in the types of titles often suggested to him, and by junior high he never cracked a book if he could help it. This changed when an eighth grade teacher gave him Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly.

Brandon was working on his thirteenth no...more
More about Brandon Sanderson...
Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn, #1) The Well of Ascension (Mistborn, #2) The Hero of Ages (Mistborn, #3) The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive, #1) Elantris (Elantris, #1)

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“You see, that is the sad, sorry, terrible thing about sarcasm.

It's really funny.”
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“By now, it is probably very late at night, and you have stayed up to read this book when you should have gone to sleep. If this is the case, then I commend you for falling into my trap. It is a writer's greatest pleasure to hear that someone was kept up until the unholy hours of the morning reading one of his books. It goes back to authors being terrible people who delight in the suffering of others. Plus, we get a kickback from the caffeine industry...” 945 likes
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